We recreate nesting habitats of endangered bird species

Project BeeSandFish is focused on restoration of nesting and feeding habitats of three endangered bird species: European Bee-eater, Kingfisher and Sand Martin. A common feature of the ecology of these species is the use of natural riverbanks and walls for nesting. Project activities are linked with Natura 2000 sites around the rivers Danube and Morava – specifically with SPA Dunajské luhy, Záhorské Pomoravie, Dolné Pohronie, Dolné Považie and Parížske močiare. Implementation of restoration measures as re-establishing a water regime of particular river branches or the whole river branch system of Danube, restoration of vertical riverbanks, wetlands and also reintroducing grazing livestock along the river will create suitable living conditions for these interesting bird species.

Protection and retoration of riparian forest stands and vegetation

The activity started in spring 2016. In spring 2017 tree planting was finalized. We planted the following native tree species: Salix alba, Populus alba, Populus nigra, Alnus glutinosa, Quercus robur, Fraxinus angustifolia in SPA Dunajské Luhy according to the A3 study.   The trees were planted in 18 of the originally planned 27 localities. The reason was…

Restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls – Bátorove Kosihy

The restoration of nesting walls in Bátorové Kosihy was prepared and carried out in close cooperation with the local administration office, the mayor and local organization “Brehuľa” (Sand Martin). Information pannels informed the locals about the ongoing works. The nesting locality was used by a colony before the reconstruction, but parts started to overgrow with…

Tree planting with Mary Kay in Biskupické luhy

Together with volunteers from Mary Kay and with the support of BSK we planted native tree species in Biskupické Luhy. Despite the unfavourable weather conditond the event was a big success. The Mary Kay staff resisted the bad weather and managed to plant 300 poplar trees. Tanks a milion!  

New interactive exhibition for schools

The interactive exhibition for schools about life of Sand Martin, Kingfisher and European Bee-eater is available these days at courthouse Dúbravka-Bratislava till 4.3. – from Monday to Saturday – 16:00 – 19:00 and on Sunday from 10:00 to 13:00. In case you are interested to visit our exhibition as school class (also provided in English),…

Project title: Restoration of nesting and feeding habitats of Sand Martin,
Kingfisher and European Bee-eater in Danube-Morava region
Financial scheme: LIFE+, Nature and Biodiversity

Acronym: LIFE BeeSandFish
Project code: LIFE12 NAT/SK/001137
Duration: 01/01/2014 – 31/03/2019
Budget: 3 676 064 € (50 % financed by European Commission)

Program LIFE
NATURA 2000

Why do we implement the project?

In the past the Danube-Morava region provided various natural nesting opportunities for bird species. Nowadays Sand Martin, Kingfisher and European Bee-eater suffer with lack of suitable nesting and feeding habitats in the area. Steep river banks and terrestrial walls suitable for nesting as well as small river branches, wetlands and meadows as potential feeding places degraded due to the river regulations and bank stabilization with boulders and concrete. The abandonment of traditional forms of farming in the country (cattle grazing and mowingcaused the disappearance of suitable habitats for insectwhichprovide food source for Sand martin and Bee-eater.

Defined objective:

The main objective of this project is to improve the conservation status and population characteristics of target bird species by restoration of their habitats (feeding and nesting). Conservation actions including suitable restoration management will lead to improvement of conditions for these bird species and protection of nature and natural values in the region.

Partial goals and expected project results:

Steep nesting sites (river banks, clay-sand and loess walls) will be restored at minimum of 1 750 m.

Steep nesting sites (river banks, terrestrial walls) will be protected by fencing, closing of access roads, installation of caution and prohibition signs, reduction of human disturbance, camera security control and seasonal sand and gravel extraction regulation on 15 localities.

Water and wetland habitats will be restored at least on 8 localities (3 river branches on the length of 3 600 m and 5 wetlands of total size of 13.2 ha).

Forest habitats will be restored at least on 30 localities (by planting of 20 000 trees of native species and marking at least 1 500 old and valuable trees to be protected from logging).

Grasslands will be restored by introducing of grazing on the minimum of 5 localities with the total size of 75 ha.

Restored grasslands will be maintained as meadows by mowing on the minimum of 3 localities with the total size of 25 ha.

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Annex I. Population size in project area – 120 pair. Nesting, overwintering and stable bird species. Conservation status – population disturbed and endangered. Kingfisher inhabits different water habitats; nests in steep banks. Food consits mailny of fish. Optimal ecological conditions: unregulated rivers with mosaic of flowing water and backwaters, trees and bushes on the banks, large amount of fish, steep river banks. There are restricted nesting conditions and food options in the project area.

Conservation issues: reduced river dynamics causes loss of potential nesting sites (steep river banks) and insufficient dietary offer (small fish); alternative nesting possibilities are insufficient (old sawyers). Project will help to improve nesting conditions and its maintenance within project area.

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)

Riparia_riparia_Stefan_Benko

Annex I. Population size in the project area until 31.12.2011 – 0 – 300 pairs (significant annual variations). Nesting, migratory bird. Conservation status – threatened. Nesting of Sand Martin within the project area is restricted due to embanked of river and side arm banks as well as lowered flow dynamics – inside the river branch system no new steep banks are created anymore.

In the past there were huge nesting colonies of this species along the whole Danube and Morava section. Regular presence of Sand Martin and its nesting populations is nowadays significantly reduced. Majority of potential nesting sites (steep banks) was covered by large amount of stones and reduced water dynamics causes that new steep banks are created only exceptionally. Proposed project actions will help to improve nesting and feeding possibilities for this bird species.

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

Merops_apiaster_Stefan_Benko

Birds Directive – Annex I. Population size in the project area – 100 pairs (in Slovakia nest according to latest estimation 700 to 1 300 pairs). Nesting, migratory bird. Conservation status – near threatened.Significant part of the population is concentrated in southern part of Slovakia, while its distribution is influenced by the offer of suitable nesting habitats. Bee-eaters need for nesting steep loess or clay-sandy walls. The major part of their diet consists of hymenopterous insects (wasps, bees), dragonflies, butterflies and various beetles. Bee-eater catches its prey during flight. It lives in colonies.

This bird is threatened mostly by degradation of steep nesting walls– their overgrowing by pioneer woody plants, establishment of landfills as well as reduction of food sources (large-scale use of insecticides causing significant loss of food). There are also known cases of direct persecution by plugging of nesting burrows and killing birds as a result of misunderstanding of its food behavior.

project area map

Project area consists of 5 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) belonging to the European system of protected areas Natura 2000:

SKCHVU004 Dolné Pohronie

There is lot of loess and sandy walls in this sub-site situated on natural terraces or in mining areas, which are surrounded by agricultural land and forest. SPA Dolné Pohronie consists of four independent parts located in eatern Podunajská nížina. All of the four parts are localized in the area of aeolian sediments – loess and sand with characteristic steep vertical walls. These steep walls are located either in parts where sand mining took place or on the edges of alluvial terraces. Dolné Pohronie is one of the three most important areas in terms of nesting of European Bee-eater in Slovakia, with estimated population size of 70 nesting pairs. Steep walls offer nesting conditions also for Sand Martin even though this species occur here very rarely.

Most fertile parts of the area have been converted to agricultural land, other to forests – usually by non-native species of trees, mostly locust tree. Less valuable areas were left without any management. For this reason, an abandoned area began to overgrow with vegetation, shrubs and trees in most cases by non-native or invasive species.

SKCHVU005 Dolné Považie

This area is located in Pannonian lowland along the bottom parts of rivers Váh, Vážsky Dunaj, Nitra and Žitava. Water regime of Váh continuing as Vážsky Dunaj, Nitra and Žitava is a determining factor affecting the habitats in the area. SPA works as a biocentre and also important migration route for different kinds of animals as it is situated near confluence of three rivers. It consists of different habitat types: water bodies, wet meadows, agricultural land, deciduous forests, non-forest areas and others. The aquatic habitats are represented by marshes, isolated oxbows, calcareous peatlands, wet meadows and habitats along rivers and their floodplains. River streams were highly regulated during 19th and 20th centuries. Water regime of the area is highly influenced by artificial system of channels (often copying the depresions of former stream beds). Ground water level increases during floods or long rainy season, which fills the natural depressions, low-lying riverbeds, oxbows, marshes.

Traditional grazing of meadows was abandoned and majority of this area was transferred into agricultural land or is managed by mowing. Majority of forest stands were changed into plantations of hybrid Poplars, only in some restricted small locations remained stands of native tree species left to natural succession process. Important landscape element in farmland is scattered wooden vegetation, dominantly represented by pollard willows and native species of Poplars.

SKCHVU007 Dunajské luhy

The site refers to 172 km long section of the Danube river demarcated with the left-sided tributaries Morava and Ipeľ. The site includes a rich network of river branches and adjacent wetland complexes. Especially in the upper part of the area on the alluvial cone is the river branch system exceptionally rich developed and it constitutes the so called Danube inland delta (between villages Dobrohošť and Klížska Nemá). Massive river activity created a mosaic of different habitats which are shaped by the flood regime. Here we can find mixture of soft- and hardwood floodplain forests, fragments of Pannonian forest, dry forest steppes and lowland hay meadows. Aquatic habitats in the territory are represented by a wide range of its different types; The main factors that determine their ecological conditions are flow rate, size, age, water regime and the possible drying out period with insufficient rainfall. Terrestrial habitats are shaped by the regime of flooding, soil type, groundwater level and human management. In the past vast part of this area was grazed by herds of cows and horses. Nowadays most of the former pastures were transferred into arable land or are used for planting of hybrid poplars. This area represents very important migration corridor for many bird species.

SKCHVU016 Záhorské Pomoravie

This sub-site includes Slovak section of the Morava River between Skalica and its confluence with the Danube, as well as the most valuable part of the floodplain area near the Czech and Austrian borders with well preserved and developed complex of diverse habitats – streams, channels, river, oxbows, swamps, seasonal pools, wet grasslands, forests, meadows, etc. Záhorské Pomoravie has been identified as one of the key sites of the European Green Belt, following the border line protected by the “iron curtain” across the Europe. During socialism this area was strictly protected and thanks to absence of human activity natural processes could work and the original lowland character of landscape was preserved. Flora of this sub-site is represented approximately by 530 species of vascular plants, many of them endangered according to national Red List. According to its avifauna Záhorské Pomoravie represents one of the most valuable sites in Slovakia – it is important migratory corridor, feeding, nesting and wintering place of waterfowl.

SKCHVU020 Parížske močiare

Parížske močiare site is located in southern Slovakia near the village Gbelce in floodplain of regulated brook Paríž. This sub-site consists of three separate parts. It extends along about 5 km section, wetlands continue in a narrow strip further to the west to the Strekov village. There are extensive marshes and reed, sedge and bats vegetation with presence of sand terraces which used to provide suitable conditions for nesting of European Bee-eater in the past. Water regime is artificially regulated. It is important nesting and feeding area for waterfowl as well as important place for migration and wintering.

The project will carry out the activities briefly described below. Activities are defined and marked according to the requirements of the LIFE program, through which the project is funded. We will inform you about the results of ongoing activities at this project website.

A. Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and/or of action plans

A.1: Expert study on restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls

Basis for this study is mapping of the project area and selection of particular localities for restoration. In case of steep river banks (first part) the study will be elaborated on the basis of historical data about nesting of target species and current hydrological conditions. The second part of the expert study will be dedicated to the selection of the most suitable localities for the restoration of the nesting loess and clay-sandy walls outside the inundation zone.

A.2: Expert study on restoration of selected river branch systems

Expert study will specify the most perspective river branch systems and/ or river branches for restoration from the proposed preselected river branch systems. If needed hydrological and mathematical model of river branch systems will be elaborated. As the second step detailed technical documentation for specific actions including geodetic survey will be elaborated.

A.3: Expert study on restoration of riparian forest stands and vegetation

The study includes mapping of possible places for planting of native trees in the project site, especially near the river branch systems, as well as the presence of the old native tree species in the large plantations of hybrid poplars and other commercially planted species and forest stands near areas where Kingfisher occurs.

A.4: Expert study on restoration of feeding habitats of target bird species

Expert study on restoration of wetlands, small periodically flooded terrain depressions and grazed grassland habitats in the vicinity of nesting sites of target bird species will be a base for works aimed at restoration of currently missing feeding habitats.

B. Purchase and/or long-term lease of land

B.1: Purchase and/or long-term lease of land

Land will be purchased (65 ha) and leased (40 ha) especially in strategic locations important for target bird species – for their nesting, feeding, resting or as buffer zones for protection of their nesting localities; targeted land includes natural habitats or degraded land with high restoration potential.

C. Specific conservation actions

C.1: Restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls

During the 19th and 20th century, significant part of the river banks of Danube and Morava rivers in were insensitively embanked by heavy stones what caused a loss of natural nesting habitats for Sand Martin, Kingfisher (e.g. high steep exposed river banks) and on some sites also for European Bee-eater (e.g. loess and clay-sandy exposed terraces). Plenty of suitable habitats were degraded gradually according to intensified sedimentation of transported material which is a consequence of artificially changed water regime.

Our goal is to restore nesting places in steep banks by removal of embankment made of heavy stones on several sections where natural erosion will not negatively influence human activity and on the other hand can bring positive changes for original animal species. These actions include the main flow of the Danube as well as Morava. The second part of the activity is focused on restoration of loess and clay-sandy terraces or river banks which represent natural nesting habitat for European Bee-eater/Sand Martin.

C.2: Restoration of river branch systems for natural restoration and long-term maintenance of nesting habitats of steep river banks

Complete change of water regime river branch system of inland Danube delta due to their separation from the main stream (19th and 20th century) caused the loss of the natural dynamics and disappearance of some habitats of the Danube river ecosystems in Slovakia. At the same time this modification has caused gradual degradation leading to the complete disappearance of the target species nesting options due to increased sedimentation rate and subsequent overgrowing of natural vertical riverbanks by vegetation.

Based on the results of an expert study (A.2) and in collaboration with experts from different fields (State nature protection, water management, zoology, ecology and others) will be restored water regime of several originally flowing side river branches of Danube or whole river branch systems. Based on detailed technical documentation an isolated section of the shoulder systems shall be linked together, side arms will be connected to the main flow of the Danube, existing barriers in the flow will be removed or modified. These measures will help to restore the natural dynamics of the hydrological regime, leading in turn to natural regeneration and especially long-term maintenance of the target species breeding habitats with positive effects for many original animal and plant species of Danube. As the number of potential sites is beyond the scope of this project, recovery will be selected for those with the greatest potential.

C.3: Protection and restoration of riparian forest stands and vegetation in the nesting habitats of Kingfisher

Nature of much riparian vegetation has changed significantly as a result of radical changes in the hydrological regime. As a consequence of the loss of water dynamics its impact on bank growth and the natural bank erosion disappeared including the formation of nesting opportunities for Kingfisher. As a result of the shortage of exposed steep river banks Kingfisher was forced to find alternative ways of nesting in the root system of uprooted old trees. Suitable riparian vegetation can provide secondary options for nesting and gathering of food (perching on branches above the water). However intensive forest management significantly reduced the appearance of natural riparian vegetation and management methods in close proximity to river branch systems and wetlands negatively affect their character as well as an important biological function.

Within this activity the original old trees located directly or in close proximity to riparian vegetation will be sought and subsequently labelled. The uprooted trees will be labelled too, the maintenance of which will be communicated to owners /users of the mentioned vegetation cover/ land. The aim is to protect such trees from logging or removal especially in the areas where there may be no other possibilities to restore the natural habitat of this species. To improve the condition of the natural riparian vegetation the bush and invasive species will be removed, which by their dense overgrown prevent the target species from using the land. Afterwards, the appropriate mix of native tree species will be planted in the vicinity of river branches in the territory.

C.4: Restoration of feeding habitats of target bird species

Within this action is planned restoration of feeding habitats placed near the nesting habitats. The attention will be paid to small marshes, bogs, terrain depressions and grasslands (by supporting of grazing and restoring of lowland meadows).

Wetlands will be renewed in places of former marshy areas that have been dried by man or will be newly created close to the nesting sites. Wetlands will be restored by opening the original inlet areas that were covered, digging the new supply channels or else changing filling facilities if necessary. Technical objects (sluice-gates) will be used to retain water and to regulate water levels.

Besides these actions, in the framework of this activity will be assessed food preference of European Bee-eater as well as the possible impact of this species on the bees. Based on the results of this survey as well as the summary of known data from the literature will be defined recommendations for beekeepers.

C.5: Protection of nesting sites of target bird species

Protection measures include: fencing of nesting sites, closing of access roads, installation of caution and prohibition signs, camera security control and monitoring and seasonal sand and gravel extraction regulation. The aim of these actions is to reduce human activity in sites where these valuable species are nesting and so ensure their successful nesting.

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

D.1: Monitoring of target species

1) detailed monitoring of populations of target species will be held within the project area prior to the implementation of restoration measures. The outputs of this monitoring will characterize the state of populations before the implementation of restoration measures. Following the beginning of the restoration measures annually mapping of populations of target species will be carried out including the monitoring of the state of suitable breeding habitats and counting breeding pairs. The results of this monitoring will be linked to the locations at which will be implemented various measures and will serve to evaluate the benefits of implemented activities.

2) the research of feeding behaviour and food composition of European Bee-eater by using appropriate non-invasive techniques

3) on the places where water and wetland habitats will be restored within concrete conservation measure we will continuously monitor fish species composition as indicators of ecological state of the localities

D.2: Monitoring of the socio-economic impact of the project actions

Project activities will be implemented in five areas (SPAs). Their nature will affect the range of socio-economic indicators. Monitoring of the socio-economic impact of the project activities will be prepared by specialists using standard methods and will be evaluated using adequate statistical methods. After the project end it will be possible to detect changes of the attractiveness of the area not only for tourists but also locals. The result of this activity will be monitoring report mapping the socio-economic impact of project activities on the local economy and population.

E. Public awareness and dissemination of results

E.1: Project website

Via the web site in three languages (Slovak, English and Hungarian) will be possible for the general public, professionals, students as well as representatives of interested groups of citizens (stakeholders) be acquainted with information about the project activities and results as well as the target species and the project area.

E.2: Communication and meetings with key stakeholders

As part of activities there will be organized meetings with all relevant groups of interested citizens (stakeholders) as representatives of municipalities, owners and land users and public authorities (regional and district environmental offices, regional and district forest offices, state and municipal police, Slovak Environmental Inspection etc.). At these meetings current project area conservation problems will be discussed with involved organizations. This activity will be carried out regularly throughout the project period.

E.3: Installation of information panels

A total of 10 information panels will be placed at strategic locations of the project area. Panels will provide comprehensive information on project activities, floodplain ecosystems and their bird populations. There will also be information about the local nature conservation, particularly in the context of the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. Information will be preferably in the Slovak language, but also in Hungarian, German and English, and most particularly in cases/areas where it will be suitable. This activity will be implemented gradually throughout the project. The panels will also include information on the Natura 2000 network, including logos Natura 2000 and the LIFE + program and information on its importance and role in the protection of European landscapes and natural heritage.

E.4: Publishing of information, educational and promotional materials

To increase awareness of different target groups will be prepared leaflets, brochures, stickers, calendars, memory game and many other materials. Brochures and leaflets will be published in Slovak, English and Hungarian.

Information materials will be drawn focusing mainly on the professional public and experts in the field, members of the institutions concerned (staff offices, State nature protection, members of other non-governmental organizations) who can benefit from the experience and results obtained within the project. Information materials will be designed so that they will be a benefit also for stakeholders such as foresters, farmers, beekeepers, owners and land users, local residents, hunters, etc.).

Educational and promotional materials will be distributed also to the wider public (including children and students), focusing mainly on visitors in the NATURA 2000 sites with an effort to explain the impact of their behaviour on the valuable habitats and species of the protected areas.

E.5: Documentary film

The film will be made about the target species and the relationship to their habitats and threats which are threatening their population. In the film we would like to bring closer the basic biology of species including their ecological strategies and natural habitat requirements. Part of the film will stress the examples of optimal nesting habitats and negative factors and actions causing their endangerment and decrease in population number. The individual situation before restoration of habitats, examples of restoration works and of habitats after their recovery for comparison will also be shown. Via the document we present the current situation of these species and their habitats (nesting and feeding) in the Danube-Moravian region and emphasize the need for their protection. Part of the film will be devoted to LIFE + project, its purpose, its achievements, restoration measures, monitoring of the objectives and the overall concept of Natura 2000. The film will be presented in the media, on the website, distributed on DVD to the public and stakeholders. It will be produced in three languages version (Slovak, English and Hungarian).

E.6: Exhibition

The exhibition will show to public in a very effective way the importance of the protection of the targeted species and habitats. It will be focused on the ecology of Kingfisher, Sand Martin and European Bee-eater. It will explain interesting facts of their lives in attractive way – nesting, migration, looking for food and at the same time will explain specific nesting and feeding habitat requirements of particular species. Within the exhibition, basic factors threatening the life of these birds will be presented. The exhibition will contain diverse interactive components designated for diverse age categories. Part of the exhibition will also be an interactive game through which participants can try to be in the shoes of Kingfisher, European Bee-eater or Sand Martin.

The exhibition will have a traveling character – during the project it will be installed at several locations within Slovakia, Hungary eventually Czech Republic or Austria in the first phase, especially in places that are somehow related to the project area. Gradually, the exhibition will tour all significant centres that have similar activities in its program and at the same time focus on environmental education and popularisation of nature protection including cross-border region.

E.7: Presentations and field excursions for schools and public

Within this activity numerous presentations and field excursions for schools and public will be organized. The professional guides will guarantee an excellent level of excursions, of information about the project, project area, target species and the system of protected areas Natura 2000 as well as the objectives and the opportunities provided by the European Commission under the LIFE. The quality and experience of lecturers and guides will ensure the participants will get first-rate information and pleasant experience (professional presentation, answering questions, guidance at the most attractive natural sites within the project area, wildlife observation, etc.). Guides will also supervise a compliance with the rules of behaviour in nature during excursions. For each group of participants will be selected different intensity and duration of lectures and in case of excursions will be selected routes with varying degrees of difficulty. There will also be an offer of attractive excursions by boat or bicycle together with bird watching.

During presentations for students and the public will be used modern audio-visual equipment (slide show, sounds and video records). Lectures for students will contain except the information about the project and Natura 2000 also contain information on target species and their biology and will be presented in attractive way – including illustration of basic research, the identification of the species, of the bird parasites, etc.

This activity will be implemented throughout the entire duration of the project.

E.8: Promotion of project on conferences and in media

This activity includes two main parts: (1) propagation of the project on conferences and (2) in media. The project will be presented to expert audience during conferences and expert meetings and also to wide public via media. Promotion of the project, its objectives, methods and conservation achievements are useful for obtaining higher support for the implementation of the project within the local population and the overall increase of public awareness. Conferences will be held in the project countries and elsewhere abroad. Regular contact with the media – newspapers, magazines, radio, television at local, regional and national levels will be introduced. Information for the press will be published regularly through press releases, media briefings, interviews, news reports from the field, etc. Media outputs will promote the project and its objectives. This activity will be carried out throughout the entire duration of the project. Media outputs will also be updated on the website of the project.

F. Overall project operation and monitoring of the project progress

F.1: Project management

This activity will be provided for overall management of the project by the project manager, assistant and other positions in the project. Project staff will be employed throughout the entire duration of the project. External subcontractors, suppliers of goods and services will be selected by public tender following the timetable of implementation of the project. Project Office is based in Bratislava. At the beginning of the project the Project Steering Committee will be appointed from representatives of the project partners and representatives of the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, an independent scientific authority, the Ministry of Environment and key stakeholders (e.g. SVP) who will oversee the entire course of the project .

F.2: Project bookkeeping and financial management

This activity is necessary to ensure overall project bookkeeping and preparing accounting documents for monitoring reports and project reports as well as documents for audit.

F.3: Networking with other projects and institutions

This activity is focused on networking of the project staff with staff of similar ongoing and completed projects. As part of the mutual visits will project staff exchange experience in implementing of different approaches to tackle similar conservation issues and consider options, pros and cons of the proposed project activities. There will be an opportunity to discuss different approaches with more experienced and less experienced partners and thus avoid failure of the proposed activities under the project or help the partners to prevent their failures and errors. The cooperation will be established with similar projects focusing on endangered bird species, rivers, wetlands and floodplain forests and project visits will be carried out. Protected areas with similar problems, natural conditions and socio-economic background will be selected for networking. Therefore, projects along the Danube and Morava will be preferred. The proposed project solutions will be discussed with experts from other project areas. Many experiences will be presented to key stakeholders and authorities. This activity will be carried out throughout the entire duration of the project.

F.4: Project auditing

All financial statements for the European Commission will be verified by an independent auditor. This activity will be carried out throughout the entire duration of the project since the nomination of an independent auditor.

F.5: After-LIFE conservation plan

At the end of the project will be prepared document – “Protection plan after the project end” which will describe the continuation of project activities after they are finalized to ensure long-term protection of undertaken measures, target species and their habitats in the project area.

A. Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and/or of action plans

A.1: Expert study on restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls

The result of this study is the identification of a number of sites that could potentially be adapted to suit the nesting and feeding demands of European Bee-eater, Sand martin and Kingfisher (shore height, food offer in the area, the threat of predators, target species nesting in the past).

It is concerning the sections on the main stream of Danube (Petržalka, Ružinov), Medveďov, Lél, Zlatná na Ostrove, Iža, Patince, Chľaba and the river Morava from mouth of Dyje to mouth of Rudava.

The study has been prepared from hydraulic and hydrological (Water research institute) as well as from biological and ecological perspective (Department of Zoology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University).

Outcomes of professional studies will serve other participants in the project as a technical basis for selecting the most appropriate sections for restoration of the natural river banks and perpendicular walls within the project and project area.

An illustration of field research of SPAs realised by project partner VÚVH for the purpose of obtaining documents for the establishment of an expert study on the restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls.

SPA Dolné Pohronie – Pastovce

SPA Dunajské luhy

SPA Záhorské Pomoravie

 

A.2: Expert study on restoration of selected river branch systems

The main objective of this activity is to propose measures to rebuild the connection between the main flow of Danube and its branch system in selected localities. Draft of the measures was drawn up with regard to the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC and consulted with partners. In the Sap-Szob area such measures were coordinated with the policies developed within the Hungary-Slovakia project DuReFlood. Due to proposal of appropriate measures was drawn up an analysis of the historical and morphological development of the Danube River and its branch system. Hydrological and hydraulic data were collected and analyzed and subsequently the hydrological regime was determined in the selected localities.

Within the activity A2 detailed inspection of terrain and surveying was carried out. Actual technical and topographic data were introduced into the digital terrain model (DTM) which was used as input to D2 hydrodynamic model as well as an analysis of current situation and proposed measures for recovery.

As the most suitable segments for the renewal in terms of hydrology and hydromorphology appear Medveďovské and Kľúčovecké branch which have also significant flood control feature.

A.3: Expert study on restoration of riparian forest stands and vegetation

The action A.3 was processed since February 2014. The study has covered two main parts; first focused on localities with the bank vegetation negatively affected by intensive commercial forest management and the second to places where according the actual forest-management plans the cutting of plantation growths are planned. The main attention has been devoted to obtain and process actual information about planned forest measures within project site especially SPAs Dunajské luhy and Záhorske Pomoravie. Number of meetings with experts from SNC SR and Lesy SR were carried out during the study preparation. Highly positive result for both – the expert study and also realization of C.3 action is fact that for new decennium we managed several changes in forest management plans. It was achieved the re-categorization of several forest stands from commercial to special-purpose forests including several riparian forests within SPA Dunajské luhy. Thanks to this fact these stands are not purposed for commercial use and old trees as well as uprooted trees will be left without any intervention.

As part of this preparatory action mapping of riparian forests focused on searching of old trees and native tree species has been also realised. Mapped old growth trees and/or and native tree species within monocultures of hybrid poplars or other forests stands designated for felling were marked and preserved also within forest stands which are intensively commercially used. About 200 of the mapped and identified trees are of exceptional quality, represent typical examples of particular native tree species and have parameters to be potentially designated as protected trees (protection of individual old trees according Act. No. 543/2002 on Nature and landscape protection). For these trees basic data as the tree species, trunk perimeter in breast high as well as GPS coordinates were recorded.

During elaboration of the study, it was decided that the study will primary focus on SPA Dunajské luhy, rather than other SPAs and project sites. SPA Dunajské luhy is far the most important SPA for the population of kingfishers comparing to other SPAs/ project sites. As the other SPAs targeted are also very large (Záhorské Pomoravie, Dolné Považie) and project resources are limited, it was decided that the realisation of action C.3 based on this study will take place only in the SPA Dunajské luhy. There is also the highest need for enlargement of the natural riparian forest stands and vegetation, as the intensive commercial forestry in the area has changed large areas of natural forest to monocultures of non-native hybrid poplars. In comparison to the SPA Dunajské luhy, forests of the SPA Záhorské Pomoravie are largely represented by natural forests and natural tree species composition. Also there are several large forest Nature reserves designated in the past (e.g. Horný les and Dolný les Nature reserves), where natural forests and riparian vegetation are legally protected. Due to these facts, the priority of action C.3 was fully focused on the SPA Dunajské luhy.

C. Concrete coservation actions

C.1: Restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls

In total 683 m out of 1 750 m of  steep river banks and nesting walls have been restored so far, which is 39,03 % of the expected results.

16.06.2017 – Restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls – Bátorove Kosihy

Localities in Bátorove Kosihy were occupied by nesting pairs also before the restoration, but the nesting walls were already overgrown by vegetation (herbs but also shrubs and trees) and/ or eroded. By restoration measures implemented, size and height of the nesting walls have been enlarged and thus the nesting conditions improved. Enlarged height of the nesting walls (as well as wetland directly under the nesting wall 2 restored by Action C.4) provide better protection of nesting holes from predators and supports also better nesting success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water construction company (VVB) started public procurment for the restoration of the perpendicular river banks of the Danube on sthe sites in Bratislava Ružinov, Iža.

C.2: Restoration of river branch systems for long-term maintenance of nesting habitats of steep river banks

The preparatory work for the implementation of activities C2 has started following the expert study A2 and are dedicated to the retoration of branches/branch systems currently in SPA Dunajské luhy (Danube floodplains). Inspection was carried out in the field and surveying has started for realization of earthworks.

There was a final discussion about restoration of Kľúčoveské rameno river branch and the contractor of work was chosen.

Meeting of experts in the field – selection of branches for surveying 27.1.2016

C.3: Protection and restoration of riparian forest stands and vegetation

All 19 000 young trees have been planted as planned. Trees were planted on 18 localities with the total summary size of 15,2665 ha.

More than 1300 old valuable trees were marked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.4:  Restoration of feeding habitats of target bird species

Wetlands restored and created on 4 localities with the total size of 1,77 ha so far.

Grazing supported and established on 3 localities with the total size of 34 ha so far.

Grasslands restored and maintained as meadows by mowing on 4 localities with the total size of74,61  ha so far.

Grasslands

The action started with restoration of meadows as feeding habitats. First phase of works was focused on two locations within SPA Dunajske luhy. Both of them have very good position in relation to nesting sites which are included to expert study for restoration of breeding habitats (historical as well as some current). First place is near Gabčíkovo, where on the area of 10 ha (three separated but adjacent parts) were initiated the restoration of grasslands on arable land. In the past the area was used as agricultural field. For restoration the natural mixture of original grass and herbs species has been selected and sown.

Second case of restoration works is located in cadastral areas of Bratislava – Petržalka and Ružinov, where long-term ears meadows of overall area 15 ha were fully overgrown by invasive plants. Both areas are directly behind the long part of Danube river banks included to expert study as one of restoration possibility. In the past the breeding colony of sand martins was known from these places. Currently there are 34,66 ha of restored grasslands maintained as meadows by mowing in Petržalka and 18,15 ha in Ružinov.

Restoration of grasslands by sowing of natural seed mixtures on arable land has been realised in spring 2017 on 2 locations with the total size of 5,5 ha in Číčov in cooperation with the agricultural cooperative Sokolce.

Since 2016, restored area in Bratislava – Ružinov has been enlarged by another 20 ha by grazing of sheep in the upper part of the overgrown alluvial meadows. The uneven terrain makes it difficult for machine mulching and mowing, therefore grazing is an optimal way to restore and maintain this area.

Restoration of feeding habitats via grazing and establishment of the pasture finally started in SPA Dolné Pohronie in Radvaň nad Dunajom, nearby Virt village. The area of 12 ha has been fenced by the new electric fence with the total length of 2000 m.

Small overgrown meadow of 1,5 ha has been restored in May 2016 within the SPA Dunajské luhy near Komárno, cadastral area of Veľké Kosihy by milling of woody vegetation and mulching of regenerated shoots. This locality is grazed by local farmer Kristína Víghová since 2017.

Wetlands

So far, four wetlands have been restored by BROZ with the total site of about 1,77 ha. For cost effective realisation, restoration of wetlands was connected with external field works of action C.1. Three wetlands were restored  in SPA Dunajské luhy in the cadastral area of Dobrohošť ( 0,84 ha + 0,5 ha + 0,35 ha) and 1 SPA Dolné Pohronie in the cadastral area of Bátorove Kosihy (0,08 ha), with the total size of 1,77 ha.

SPA Dunajské luhy, Bratislava – Petržalka, Ružinov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPA Dunajské luhy – Gabčíkovo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The remaining wetlands will be restored in the cadastral area of Klížská, this project is shortly before the final discussion.

Within this activity continues restoration of meadows by mulching and elimination of wood vegetation in SPA Dunajské luhy, because some areas are still overgrowth by goldenrods and shrubs Of the total planned area of grassland habitats have been restored 109,61 ha, therefrom  76,11 hectares by mowing and mulching. The grazing is realized on an area of 33.5 hectares.

Within this activity is also realized placement of bee hives on the sites with presence of European bee eaters. There were bought and equipped all planned 50 bee hives. First 25 of in cadastra area in Gabčíkovo and others 25 in cadastral area Radvaň nad Dunajom.

C.5: Protection of nesting sites of target bird species

In 2017,was installed  mobile fencing on the site Bátorove Kosihy as a protection of restored nesting walls in this area. At the same time, was installed a camera system to record any possible undesirable  interventions in nesting sites of project species. In 2018 were installed barriers to prevent motor vehicles to nesting sites of project species and their interferences.

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

D.1: Monitoring of target species and effect of project activities

Every year, colleagues from the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the UK prepare a monitoring report that is the result of their observation of project species on nesting sites in the project area. Special attention is devoted to study of the composition of the European bee eator´s food.

D.2: Monitoring of the socio-economic impact of the project actions

Experts from the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the UK from the Department of Human Geography monitor the socio-economic impact of the project. Their determinations are then evaluated in the monitoring report.

E. Public awareness and dissemination of results

E.2: Communication and meetings with key stakeholders

We organized several meetings with stakeholders (representatives of municipalities, owners and users of land). During these meetings some details of project aims and actions for their achievement were discussed.

So far, 35 meetings have taken place with the participation of 208 partners in different parts of the project area (eg. Dobrohošť, Malacky, Gabčíkovo, Malé Leváre, Zlatná na Ostrove). The meetings were attended by representatives of the State Nature Protection, Forest management of Slovakia, communities in the project area, Water management construction, state enterprise, and local companies.

We realized all three planned two-day study visits, where participants could see restoration meassures in Austria in National Park Donau Auen, in Morava river basin in Austria and Czech republic and in area of Sziketkoz in Hungary.

E.3: Installation of information panels

From 10 planned of information panels were installed 4 panels in Biskupické luhy (there is realized grazing and wil be restored perpendicular river bank). Other information panels will be installed on the sites, where the other measures will be realized.

E.6: Interactive exhibition

On 2nd February 2016 within the International Wetlands Day the opening ceremony of the exhibition ,,The Wall” took place. Opening ceremony was attended by State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment who opened the exhibition with a short speech. Except of representatives of the Ministry of Environment, BROZ, VVB and Prif UK among the first who saw and experienced the exhibition were pupils from private school Wonderschool from Bratislava Dúbravka.

The exhibition has been made available so far  in 11 locations and has been seen by more than 6000 visitors.

E.7: Presentations and field excursions for schools and public

25.09.2015 – Presentation for students (BROZ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20.06.2015 – Presentation for public (BROZ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19.05.2015 – Presentation for students (BROZ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

03.05.2015 – Field excursion for public (BROZ)

 

22.04.2015 – Presentation for students (BROZ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

08.04.2015 – Field excursion for public (BROZ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28.03.2015 – Field excursion for public (BROZ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

01.12.2014 – Presentation for public (BROZ)

F. Overall project operation and monitoring of the project progress

F.1:  Project management

12.05.2015 – Meeting and inspection of project area with experts and surveyors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

05.05.2015 – Meeting and discussion of project action A.2 in VÚVH (Water management research institute)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30.03.2015 – Inspection of project area Kráľova lúka (King meadow) with experts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F.3: Networking with other projects and institutions

05.08.2014 – Networking in NP Kopački Rit (Croatia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02.08.2014 – Networking in Neretva river delta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

06.03.2014 – Networking in NP Kopački Rit (Croatia)

RNDr. Tomáš Kušík, PhD. – project manager

kusik(at)broz.sk